Dear Babson Community:
As we look towards spring, we are cautiously optimistic about the promise of vaccines and the impact of other mitigation strategies. We continue to monitor campus conditions while simultaneously planning for Summer and Fall 2021. At this time, we expect a full return to campus for Fall 2021, including in-person classes, increased capacity in housing, and in-person social opportunities and campus activities. Our planning is, of course, subject to the state and local guidelines in place as well as recommended risk mitigation strategies (such as masks, appropriate physical distance and ongoing testing requirements) upon our return. Please expect frequent updates in the months ahead.
Let me share a few updates on what to expect:
Summer 2021 Programming
The Undergraduate Summer Session will run for 10 weeks, from May 10 to July 16, with a mix of hybrid and online classes offered in day and evening formats. Graduate students should expect a mix of hybrid and online classes as well, similar to Spring semester.
Working in conjunction with state and local guidelines, the Department of Public Health, American Camp Association, and CDC guidelines, we are confident we can once again begin to open our campus to visitors of all ages. Registration for summer sports camps begins Wednesday, March 17.
Fall 2021 Academic Experience: Undergraduate and Graduate Students
For the Fall 2021 semester, both the Undergraduate and Graduate Schools plan to return to in-person classes. Given our established online and hybrid capabilities, we will continue to have these options available throughout the curriculum in accordance with the state and local guidelines and learning and instructional imperatives. Details related to registration for Fall will come shortly.
As we plan for a return to in-person instruction, we will increase classroom capacity in line with public health guidelines as we get closer to the start of the semester. We will continue to evaluate the most appropriate physical classroom configuration with an emphasis on the health and safety of students and faculty. Given that our data has indicated zero classroom transmission this year, we are confident in our ability to properly outfit the classroom for continued safety as we return to face-to-face teaching and learning.
Students returning to campus can expect expanded housing offerings and more social, community and gathering opportunities—a welcomed shift to the “next normal.” The re-densification of our residence halls will be based on the published guidelines in place later this summer, though we do expect near full capacity in all buildings.
Faculty and Staff
At this time, it is our intention to begin returning faculty and staff to campus work in August. We will confirm that timing in the coming months based on current health conditions and local and state guidance, including testing requirements and risk mitigation strategies. We are also actively examining the remote activities that served the College and employees well in this year, and may be maintained moving forward. We expect to share more details in June.
The anticipated return for fall brings hope, excitement and a renewed sense of energy. Many are struggling with “Covid fatigue.” Truthfully, I am as well—but we have come this far and we must keep making progress. While our overall positivity rate has declined in recent days, we are concerned about the number of close contacts associated with positive cases. As Dean Ward communicated last week, we are prepared to make operational adjustments as needed to help safeguard our community and maintain the in-person experience.
Our goal is to open more in-person social opportunities on campus, especially as the weather improves. However, we need your cooperation. We need to see improvement in our data in the days ahead. That takes thoughtful consideration and diligent attention in your personal decision-making over the next few weeks. We intend to end this semester successfully, and look forward to being back together this fall.